Imagine Recap Day 5—Bonnets, Bands, Banter and Books

Saturday was a day of fun and celebration at the Imagine Arts Festival with a 9 a.m. in Jordan’s bar for their 10th annual Booze, Blaas and Banter get-together. Writer’s Weekend, as part of the Imagine Festival, also got off to a flying start with book talks hosted by Eimear Cheasty. We finished off with a special gig performed by local musicians in Patrick’s Gateway to celebrate John Palmer’s 35 years in business in the city.

It was an early start on Saturday in Jordan’s for the pub’s annual Booze, Blaas and Banter. Complimentary tea, coffee and filled blaas were served as we sat back and enjoyed the excellent music and spoken word on offer—all wonderfully introduced by master of ceremonies Freda Ryan.

Then it was down the quay to the Granville hotel to learn more about the Bonnet Project. The Bonnet Project is funded by the Waterford/Wexford Education and Training Board and delivered by the Waterford Women’s Centre.

The project is part of an international project called Roses from the Heart, remembering 25,566 women who were sentenced to transportation as convicts from Ireland and UK to Australia and Tasmania between 1788 and 1853.

The exhibition was fascinating. We learned about the women (around 300 were from Waterford) who, often small misdemeanours or for simply being poor, were send to Australia and Tasmania by the courts and imprisoned there. They were only allowed take their youngest child with them so they were separated from the rest of their family forever.

Roses from the Heart founder, Christina Henri chose a cloth bonnet, taken from an original 1860s servant’s bonnet, to name and remember each of the women who were forgotten. The exhibition showcased some of these bonnets. The focus of the project is to remember and keep to the forefront of Irish society the memory of these wronged, forgotten women.

We then headed around the corner and onto O’Connell Street to the Gallery of Art to celebrate Waterford Writer’s Weekend as part of the Imagine Festival. Curator Eimear Cheasty was the host for a Q&A with Fatti Burke and Rebeka Russell who discussed the re-issue of the book The Fly on the Wheel.

The book was written in the summer house in Ardmore of the author Katherine Cecil Thurston and is partly set in Waterford. When it was first published in 1908 it was an instant bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic. The book is as gripping and relevant today as it was back then.

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We met up with the hilarious Colm Williamson in the Book Centre for the launch Waterford Whispers News 8th book. Colm came as alter ego landlord Bill Badbody and had the audience in stitches with readings from the book. This book would make an excellent Christmas present for those who love the satirical news site.

St. Patrick’s Gateway was the venue for John Palmer’s night—celebrating 35 years in the music business in the city. A host of Waterford musicians entertained us for a night of fun and festivity. We saw performances from Omega 3, Delta Dogs, Shane Barry and Michael Burke. Emcee on the night was actor and Waterford man Jamie Beamish of Derry Girls and Bridgerton fame. As parties go, it was immense and John seemed to revel in it, dancing his socks off with family and friends.

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